Unions are supposed to “represent” workers, but they don’t. Union officials devote time and money to politics, often pursuing radical policies that are completely out of touch with rank-and-file members. Union leaders spend billions of dollars each election cycle, much of it to fund legislative and political efforts to expand their own power.
More recently, these efforts have focused on the so-called PRO Act (HR 20, S. 567). While getting 60 votes in the Senate today is unlikely, union bosses’ power grab wish list is aimed at forcing more workers into union dues, whether they like it or not.
The PRO Bill would repeal all state right-to-work laws. It would also rewrite the definition of “independent contractor,” making nearly everyone a traditional (read: unionizable) employee. It includes many other changes to federal law that undermine the rights of workers who oppose unionization, such as adding new restrictions on workers’ ability to hold decertification elections to vote out unpopular unions.
Proposals in the PRO Act favor union bosses, not the workers they claim to represent. In most states that currently have right-to-work laws, it’s hard to see what would benefit workers by repealing right-to-work laws that simply make paying union dues a voluntary choice. Of course, it’s obvious that union bosses want the ability to force workers to pay or be fired.
These are not policies that please the masses. More than 80 percent of Americans believe union dues should be voluntary, which is part of the reason the PRO bill was too aggressive to pass.
But let’s say it does pass. What will union bosses demand next?
Because GLP is fundamentally a political operation, its next legislative moves were planned in advance by union bosses and their allies in academia and the non-profit world.
A Harvard University report called “Workers’ Power Clean,” written in consultation with major unions and funded by the pro-unionist Kellogg and Hewlett Foundation, contained more than 100 pages about the new unions. Boss power idea.
Some proposals are very strange. The report recommends allowing union bosses to carry out “digital picketing” of company websites. To achieve this, businesses are required by law to place a pop-up window on their web pages announcing that a strike is taking place, so that customers must “cross the picket line” by closing the pop-up, or leave the site.
Even more sinister, some proposals aim to reduce the number of workers who have to support unions before imposing them on everyone else. The vast majority of Americans believe that workers should decide as individuals whether joining a union and paying dues is right for them, yet current law allows union bosses to force “representation” and dues on workers who disagree by claiming union support. Most of their colleagues.
However, a “majority” can be established through low-turnout elections, and union bosses can sometimes simply point to signed union “cards” without a vote.
To remove the frustration of having to gain and maintain worker support, union bosses want to implement a practice known as “sector bargaining.” Instead of going from one place to another to drum up workers’ support, the government can simply declare union officials to be “representatives” of workers across the industry.
The Harvard report suggested that union bosses need only secure the support of “5,000 workers in a sector or 10 percent of workers in a sector, whichever is lower,” to establish an industry-wide union monopoly. A ballot measure backed by unions in Massachusetts aimed at sectoral bargaining for Uber and Lyft drivers similarly proposed that cards representing just 25 percent of all workers should trigger monopoly union representation.
Once installed, sectoral bargaining teams can centrally plan for industry working conditions without fear of worker opposition. Such a system would revolutionize our economy and upend traditional American values of free markets and individual choice.
This would subject the entire country to the twisted economic logic of union bosses. These people argue that ridiculous job requirements, such as union electricians being the only ones allowed to operate light switches on construction sites, create “jobs” rather than just wasting time.
For American workers who want more flexible working freedom than unionized central planners allow, and who don’t think union bosses will control the economy very well, sectoral negotiations will be a disaster.
But those union bosses, who are looking to expand their power, don’t care. The PRO Act will hasten this expansion, but it is only the first step towards Big Labor’s goal of putting every worker in America under union control, regardless of their opposition.
Americans should reject these cynical power grabs, support right-to-work laws that protect workers from mandatory union dues, and work to ensure that unionization is a voluntary choice for everyone.
Mark Mix is President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.